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Bombast from the past.

The Crown Jewels * Queen * Hollywood

From their use in films, commercials, cover versions, and sporting-event chants, Queen's hits are arguably more popular since Freddie Mercury's death from AIDS-related complications than when they were recorded some 20 years ago. But as with the best of the '70s bands, Queen was much more than its single successes. Its albums--particularly the early ones--were fastidiously crafted fabulous concoctions of savagely dissimilar styles juxtaposed, blended, preened, and primped to pimp a rock bouquet both bombastic and effeminate. Those hits compilations don't tell the whole story. Pick any one of Queen's long-playing blossoms, and you'll sniff more flowery, fruity scents than you'll get from most stinky boxed sets.

The Crown Jewels is the only proper way to comprehensively present such sonic pageantry. Queen's first eight studio albums--Queen, Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night At the Opera, A Day At the Races, News of the World, Jazz, and The Game--are arguably the group's best work, and now they're gathered together in their complete garish glory. Remastered under the band's supervision, with packaging that honors the LPs' original artwork, these glittery gems are a study in how the right queen can transform something as heterosexist as '70s hard rock into royal homo heaven: Check such simultaneously gritty and girlie anthems as "My Fairy King," "The Fairy Fellers Master-Stroke," "The March of the Black Queen," and "Flick of the Wrist."

Walters is a pop-music critic for The Advocate.
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Author:Walters, Barry
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Dec 8, 1998
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